Prepare yourself for the honesty…
Going vegan is such an amazing thing. You’re making a positive change with your life, and you’re becoming a healthier, more compassionate person. You may even start to feel more connected to your mind and body which can be quite spiritual at times! Suddenly your social media feeds will be filled with delicious vegan food, lifestyle hacks and interesting discussions, and it’s great to get involved! Everything is good, that is until peoples’ judgements start to take hold of you. What seems like a light-hearted positive conversation with a vegan friend can very suddenly feel like a telling off. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others’ ways of living the vegan lifestyle and end up feeling ashamed.
“Don’t you recycle all your plastic?” “I went vegan overnight!” “Why do you eat pineapple in winter?” – These statements can make you want to avoid the topic of veganism all together and go running in the opposite direction. And even though you buy vegan food, cosmetics and clothes the horrible comparisons start to creep in – the “I’m not good enough,” the “I should be doing this,” and the “I should do that too.” Sound familiar? The truth is; these additional changes come with time. Once you’ve made that big vegan step, you can then focus on cutting out more plastic, buying locally sourced food and being more ethical with your choices.
I’m very experienced with the comparisons. I’ve felt the judgements. I’ve felt the shame. But now, almost 2 years later, I’ve finally learned to do things my own way. I’ve learned not to compare my vegan lifestyle to others’ and not to feel horrible about myself because I’m not as eco-friendly as my friends 24/7.
Doing Vegan Your Own Way
Everyone is different
Something I find useful to remember, whether it’s in veganism or general life challenges, is that no-one else in the world is having the same experience as YOU. In a way that’s kind of scary to think about, but it’s true. No-one else is YOU. Some transition quicker than others, some learn at different paces and some make 100 mistakes before they pick themselves back up again. Since everyone is different, it doesn’t really make any logical sense to start comparing yourself to someone else. I’m not saying that it’s bad to share experiences and try new things; it’s definitely a great way of learning! But if something doesn’t work out for you, write it off. No questions asked. Move on and find something that does work, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you, which leads me to my next point…
Set your intention
People always ask me “what would you do if you ate something that wasn’t vegan by accident?” This kind of makes me laugh a bit, but I love that people are interested. Supply and demand plays a big part in this for me (more on this in the future!), but if my intentions are good, and they always are, then I don’t beat myself up about it. Mistakes always work as a lesson learned, no matter how big or small, that’s the important thing to remember here. Once you’ve realised your mistake you’ll never forget that what you ate wasn’t vegan and you’ll be super careful in the future.
The same goes for being more eco-friendly too. If you have no choice, or if you accidentally buy something you shouldn’t have, it’s ok. We move on and we learn.
Do what you feel is right
I’m going to reiterate what I said earlier – No-one else is YOU. Only you know what you feel comfortable doing, so go with your gut. It’s easy for negative judgements to creep in, and it’s easy to set ridiculously high standards for yourself right off the bat. You know you want to be more eco-friendly, and you will be, when the time is right and when you’re ready. You can’t rush change! Almost 2 years on and I still haven’t cut out soybeans, I still buy food with unnecessary plastic packaging, and sometimes I still use plastic straws.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that you should just sit around ‘waiting’ for the right moment. Use this time wisely. Take the time to educate yourself. Read some articles, watch some videos. The little things you learn will eventually lead you to take action. That’s what happened when you went vegan right?
Set yourself attainable objectives
Whether you’re going vegan, or you’re already vegan and you want to be more eco-friendly, then setting yourself some achievable goals could be the key to your transition. Figure out what you want to cut out first. You could pick the smallest things like cow’s milk in tea or veggies wrapped in plastic and tackle that one thing for a week. Once you’ve succeeded, move on to the second, then the third, and on you go. Open up your laptop, get your paper and start jotting down your little goals.
If you mess up one week then don’t be too hard on yourself! Not everyone is perfect, and beating yourself up about it isn’t going to change the situation. If you have good intentions, then the rest will follow!
Remember, be kind to yourself!
Let me know your tips for being more eco-friendly! I’d love to hear what you find useful and what you don’t.
Photographs taken by me, from the best place on earth, Whittard Tea Bar in Covent Garden.